Monday, December 24, 2007


JH: I haven't felt betrayed by or denied of poetry; whenever I find myself a long-unvisited though previously experienced writer of poems, I get a posthumous feeling that I should enjoy while it is able to be felt. At this time, I don't consider myself long-unvisited. During, and immediately before, writing a poem, the poem and the poet exist simultaneously. Afterward, the author (who is culturally referred to as a poet) is, to the poem, just another reader. The person outlives the poet s/he was while writing the poem. A poet is what mediates the poem and its person. Why is there, often, more than one poem per person? Does the same poet re-visit its person, or is the person's poet a new poet each time? Does the appearance of the poet have phases within its person? If so, after the last phase, the extinction, of a particular poet, does another poet necessarily have to appear within the person? Helpful to consider in the question of phases may be Fernando Pessoa, as well as Artaud's autopsies of Ducasse/Lautreamont and Coleridge (in two 1946 letters, found in English in "Antonin Artaud: Selected Writings", edited by Susan Sontag). The idea of the Muse may be analogous to the appearance of a poet within a person, especially the idea of possession by Muse or Daemon. Why are some people accessible to visitations by a poet (and thus a poem), and some are not? If poetry constantly thinks of the human, and a person is not constantly writing poetry, does this mean a poet has human qualities only when it appears to a person who is to write a poem? Where is the poet when it is not appearing to a person -- does it, during this time, reside in the same place as poetry? Does a poem sometimes make a solitary visit to its person, a poem unknown because a poet has not made a simultaneous visit to that person? Does a poet sometimes make a solitary visit to its person, without a poem making a simultaneous visit to that person? Is this poet sans poem detected by its person? If so, is this because a poet has human qualities? If a poet is what mediates the poem and its person, are words what allow this mediation? If the poet has words, how are these different from the words a person has? Is rhythm what poetry provides? Is this rhythm the structure that moves the written poem from one line or sentence to another?

AHB: Hey, who the heck is writing these poems we see, that 'we' wrote, or someone else did? It is a question that seems both highly charged and overly concerned. How much thought does the process need? In my youth, I was just along for the ride, to take that writing moment and go with it. as I became more conscious of the results, I became more conscious of my process. times when I felt a charge in the writing but in reading over the work I'd wonder where the energy went (knowing it had to go somewhere). that's when one starts wanting to supplicate the Muse (in one conception of the act) or otherwise con sider the way the work is compelled. I wrote for a couple of years before I faced a reconsideration of what I was doing. Robert Grenier, as teacher (reckoning that this was before LANGUAGE poetry became branded), indicated a different attitude towards words and procedure. the lesson wasn't easy for me but I finally got around the inclination to say something. that is, I stopped cornering the work that was given me, at least not so much. so there is that accepting of transport that is the creative act, which is a trust in process. and a sense, as well, of ungripping every lesson learned. and my friend, the new work, or poem, comes along, a visit or implication. easily enough, I can forget this friend, as in: absence makes the heart grow fonder. thus my hard drive is full of works that I have not looked at since I wrote them. is it 10 or 15 minutes of life, the time I took writing, or does their potential live beyond my distance? of course they live on, perhaps to be seen again by reading eyes...

I will now include a poem that you posted recently on the Wryting list (our practice field?). it shows your interest in alchemy. I've tussled with Jung enough to see thru the muddling haze that surrounds the subject, and remembering that Isaac Newton probably wrote more on alchemy than on any subject. a philosophical conception, let us say. I think you hit the nail on the head, tho it is not a nail and it has no head.

The Melting Salts, or, A Defense of Poetry

A substance that passes through the fire (that is to say, the line) becomes metaphorical. As most of the Sulphur turns metaphorical, the incombustible Mercury remains (often still garmented with combustible Sulphur) as a liquid Salt or a celestial Salt, or both. The Salt in the ashes is its fixed counterpart. It may be inferred from an entire reading of Percy Bysshe Shelley's A Defence of Poetry that what is commonly referred to as "Spirit of Philosophical Wine"(the delineable metaphor), and also as the "Secret Fire" (the readable metaphor), and also still the "Alkahest" (the destructive, or the audible metaphor) will, by itself or containing the tinctures or Salts of various subjects, when burned, produce this type of volatile Mercurial Salt as an exalted fixed remainder. The volatile is for a health of an entire reading, the fixed is for transmutation of metals.

You, reader, can go about crying in your nakedness for the burning through the line, but the burning through the line is done after the vestal stage of an entire reading, which does not occur before the mortification of the atramentous stage, which is not enjoyed by jumping up and down. Beware the eating of the burning through the line, for where will its Sibylline clouds lead you? Only back to lead; beware, reader; you will poison yourself beyond repair.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


JH: Let me pluck a couple more strings of "Mimicry In Ruins". In the second sentence of "Mimicry In Ruins", the opening quotation mark may start at "pass", and the closing quotation mark may be placed after "says", or "den", or "hope". Nature could be the original speaker of "Beauty is body as places". What is being imitated when ones writes of past experience? Is it the act of writing an account that is doing the speaking, and thus the person who had the experience is what is being imitated? What words convey is the imitated and the imitable, whereas words have their own pasts and their own immediate and future contexts. Writing has become a language, which borrows words from another language (e.g., English) or languages (e.g., English, Italian, Latin) to such an extent as to obscure the fact that writing is a language without words, only forms, whether these forms are syntactical or cultural/literary. Is poetry analogous to this definition of writing (and can poetry only be analogous to a definition, and never to the thing defined?), or does poetry borrow from writing in much the same manner as writing borrows from language? Does poetry's borrowing, whatever it is, lead one to think poetry has no words of its own? Writing's borrowing does not lead me to think writing possesses words that are translated into human language; writing is an act. Poetry is dependent on words for visibility, yet is itself linguistically invisible. Writing cannot desert a writer unless soundness of body and brain has previously deserted; poetry can desert its author at any time. Poetry is not an action; it moves of its own impulse; it does not have a knowable constitution. The words of poetry are as its thoughts, and are translated into human language. Are we to suppose poetry thinks of us constantly? By "us", I mean human language and its dealings. If poetry is intermittently, and incidentally, concerned with the human, can any or all of its other concerns be inferred? The surface self-sufficiency of words independent of what they convey may be what attracts poetry to words, or poetry may detect an analogy between this self-sufficiency of words and the isolation of past experience from present experience (which includes the act of writing).

AHB: 1st, apologies for not answering you sooner. “Are we to suppose poetry thinks of us constantly?” it seems only fair that it does, as we claim, don't we, to think of poetry all the time. Writing stays with us, but poetry, its a shifting thing. because of busyness and distraction, I haven't been writing in the same rhythm as usual. I am not blocked, in the sense of having poetry denied me, just having trouble squiring the time and concentration to get to the writing. in The White Goddess Robert Graves personifies the muse, the triple-goddess, towards which the effort of writing goes. I don't entirely buy the picture but I still find the sense of process useful. I mention this because I wonder if you ever feel betrayed by or denied of poetry. I've admitted that I'm not writing so much as has formerly been my practice. I notice that you aren't posting a great deal at Wryting and wonder if you are in a trough as well. and more importantly to this discussion, do you lose the muse ever? I'll say that I went thru a long stretch of dissatisfaction. I was not energized by poetry, my methods (I started using a computer) changed, and such, so that, tho I wrote a lot, it wasn't poetry. as you write, "Poetry is not an action; it moves of its own impulse".